LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Valiant of the Overwatch League were the guests of honor at Staples Center on Thursday as part of the Los Angeles Kings' first-ever Esports Night.
Valiant CEO Ari Segal wanted to give his team a taste of the type of atmosphere he wants his players to experience when they move from the Blizzard Arena to their new home next year at Microsoft Theater, right across the street from where the Kings play.
"Having our players get to experience what a game day is like here at LA Live and to see the way the community of L.A. comes to this venue and comes to this unbelievable sports and entertainment destination to consume high-level sports and athletics and entertainment competitions and events, I think inspires them about what the future is gonna look like when this is their home too," Segal said.
Segal has been to many hockey games, as he previously worked in the front offices of the Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks. But for many of the Valiant players, this was their first hockey game.
"Seeing how excited and how into the game the crowd is, seeing that personally and experiencing it has been an incredible experience," Pan-seung "Fate" Koo, one of the players who had never attended a hockey game, said through an interpreter.
Indy "Space" Halpern, who was also at his first hockey game, described the atmosphere in the arena as "intense."
Besides giving his players a chance to experience the atmosphere of a pro hockey game, the night was also a chance for the Valiant to introduce themselves to a wider audience ahead of their second season.
The Valiant held a meet and greet with fans before the game, some of whom could be seen throughout the arena clad in the team's green and gold colors. The Kings also did their part to let the crowd know throughout the game that it was Esports Night, including showing Valiant fans and players on the video board and having Kings mascot Bailey roam the aisles wearing a Valiant jersey.
With Overwatch League Season 2 set to begin next month, the Valiant are eager to build on what the team, which finished first in the Pacific Division but lost in the semifinals of the Overwatch League playoffs, accomplished last season.
"Season 1 we've experienced both success and failure," Fate said. "So I want to use that experience that we've gotten to work together as a team and go even higher than we did before."
"We definitely want to make playoffs again," Space said. "But we want to take the whole thing for sure. Our last season we learned a lot from making playoffs."
Space also said he's looking forward to playing the new teams in the league. Eight teams are joining the Overwatch League for Season 2 -- Atlanta, Toronto, Washington, Vancouver, Paris, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu.
Another thing the Valiant can look forward to is coming back to LA Live to play a series of matches during Stage 4 of the season.
"We have this homestand weekend, rivalry weekend in August actually here at LA Live, and it's going to be our first esports event here at LA Live, the first Overwatch event at LA Live," Segal said.
The Valiant will be playing their intercity rivals, the Los Angeles Gladiators, and their interstate rivals, the San Francisco Shock, during that weekend.
If the Valiant are again in playoff contention this season, they might then very well experience an intense atmosphere at Microsoft like they did at Staples on Thursday.